Unredacted court documents indicate the intent by Google to purchase Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite. Epic Games is still in a legal case against Google and Apple for removing Fortnite from their respective app stores. However, in order to circumvent the legal proceedings, Google was prepared to buy a portion or the entirety of Epic Games. Doing so would require Epic to drop its case against Google as the latter company would force the former to sign an anti-compete agreement.
Google has gone so far as to share its monopoly profits with business partners to secure their agreement to fence out competition, has developed a series of internal projects to address the ‘contagion’ it perceived from efforts by Epic and others to offer consumers and developers competitive alternatives, and has even contemplated buying some or all of Epic to squelch this threat.”
Whether this would have been a negotiation to buy Epic or some sort of hostile takeover attempt is unclear.
Here Google also talks about the “frankly abysmal” sideloading experience they created, all while touting Android publicly as an “open platform”.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 6, 2021
Epic had sided with Samsung and other third parties to help distribute the mobile version of Fortnite. Google would call these practices “frankly abysmal” regarding directly downloading a program to an Android device.
Owning Epic Games would have been a huge win for Google, though it would worry many others in the industry if it were to occur. Google Stadia has not been the success that the company has hoped though it is still trying new strategies to breathe life into the platform.
Had Google bought Epic based on these court documents, there isn’t much stopping one of the biggest game publishers from becoming exclusive to the cloud-gaming service. Given the track record of Stadia, however, and the now failed in-house Stadia game development studio, it’s hard to say whether or not the purchase could have been as lucrative. Especially when compared to Microsoft, which bought Bethesda and owns the very successful Xbox Game Pass.